Can Exercise help migraine sufferers?

The National Institutes of Health estimate that 28 million Americans suffer from migraines. People who suffer from chronic, severe migraines have long been advised not to exercise vigorously, to stick with low-intensity routines, and sometimes, to refrain from exercise altogether. However, a recently published Swedish study shows that these precautions may not be necessary. In fact, exercise, particularly cycling, may be beneficial for chronic migraine sufferers.

Twenty-six patients who had all been diagnosed with chronic migraines were surveyed at a headache clinic. They were assigned an exercise program based on indoor cycling, which was performed 3 times per week for 12 weeks. Total oxygen uptake, physical fitness, migraine status, side effects, and quality of life were evaluated. Results showed that quality of life increased with exercise and significant improvements in migraines were present: this includes lower pain, headache frequency, symptom intensity, and lower medicine intake.

Headaches are usually caused by muscle tension, vascular problems, or both. Migraines are vascular in origin, and may be preceded by visual disturbances, loss of peripheral vision, and fatigue. Most headaches can be relieved or ameliorated by over-the-counter pain medications.

A headache is pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. Serious causes of headaches are extremely rare. Most people with headaches can feel much better by making lifestyle changes, learning ways to relax, and occasionally by taking medications.